PART II. THE POWERS
Chapter One. General Provisions
The Legislative Power is vested in one Chamber: The Chamber of Deputies.
The Executive Power is entrusted to the Council of Ministers, which shall exercise it according to the provisions of this Constitution.
The Chamber of Deputies and the Council of Ministers have the right to propose laws. A law cannot be published unless the Chamber of Deputies adopts it.
A Constitutional Council is established to review the constitutionality of the laws, and to decide on the disputes and protests resulting from the presidential and the representative elections.
The right to resort to this Council, with respect to watching the constitutionality of the laws, is due to the President of the Republic, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, and the Prime Minister, or to the members of the Chamber of Deputies, and to Heads of the legally recognized sects, with respect to personal affairs, freedom of belief and the exercise of religious rituals, and freedom of religious education. The rules concerning the organization, the functioning and the composition of the Council and the application to it are established by law.
The Judicial Power is vested in the Courts at various levels and jurisdictions, within a system prescribed by the law which provides the necessary guarantees to the Judges and litigants.
Conditions of judicial guarantee and its limits are prescribed by the law. Judges are independent in exercising their functions. Decisions and judgments are issued by all the courts, and are executed in the name of the Lebanese People.
Every Lebanese citizen, twenty-one years old, has a right to be an elector, pending meeting the requirements prescribed by the Electoral Law.
Chapter Two. The Legislative Power
With the election of the first Chamber of Deputies on a national basis, not sectarian, a new Senate shall be established in which all religious communities are represented and whose power shall be limited to supreme national causes.
(Abrogated by the Constitutional Law promulgated on October 17, 1927.)
The Chamber of Deputies consists of elected representatives whose number and the manner of the election are determined by the electoral laws in effect.
Until the Chamber of Deputies issues an Electoral Law, outside the sectarian record, representative seats are distributed according to the following rules:
- Equally between Christians and Moslems.
- Proportional between the sects of both sides.
- Proportional among districts.
Exceptionally, and once, representative seats vacant at the date of publishing this Law, and the seats created by the Electoral Law, are filled totally by appointment by a two- thirds majority of the National Détente Government, in implementation of the equality between the Christians and the Moslems, according to the National Détente Document. The Electoral Law determines the details of the application of this Article.
If the Chamber of Deputies is dissolved, the dissolution decision must call for conducting new elections. These elections are conducted according to Article 24 and within a period not exceeding three months.
Chapter Three. General Provisions
Beirut is the center of the Government and the Chamber of Deputies.
The member of the Chamber of Deputies represents the whole nation. His electors cannot impose restrictions or conditions on his mandate.
A Representative may combine the representative and the ministerial functions. Ministers may be selected from the members of the Chamber of Deputies or from persons outside it, or from both.
The conditions under which the eligibility for representation is lost are determined by the law.
Representatives only have the right to decide on the validity of their mandate. The mandate of any Representative cannot be nullified except by a two-thirds majority of all members.
This Article is abrogated “de jure” immediately on establishing the Constitutional Council, and putting its law in effect.
Every meeting held by the Chamber outside the legal session is ipso facto null and in violation of the law.
The Chamber holds two ordinary sessions every year. The first session starts on Tuesday following the fifteenth of March, and its meetings continue to the end of May. The second session starts Tuesday following the fifteenth of October. Its meetings are devoted to the discussion of the budget and voting on it, before anything else. The session lasts to year-end.
Ordinary sessions begin and end, de jure, as scheduled by Article 32. The President of the Republic, in agreement with the Head of Government may convene the Chamber of Deputies to extraordinary sessions by a decree setting their opening, end, and agenda. The President of the Republic is required to convene the Chamber to extraordinary sessions in response to the request made by the absolute majority of all its members.
The Chamber cannot be validly convened unless attended by the majority of the members who constitute it. Decisions are taken by the majority of votes. In a tie, the project under discussion is rejected.
The Chamber meets publicly. However, it may convene in a closed meeting, if requested by the Government or five of its members. It may decide to rediscuss the same topic in a public meeting.
Votes are cast verbally, or by rising and sitting, except in the case of election, the opinions are expressed by secret ballot. As for the laws in general, and when the issue of confidence is polled, the opinions are always expressed by roll-call, and audible.
The right to a no confidence proposal is absolute to every Representative in ordinary sessions and extraordinary sessions. The proposal cannot be discussed except after five days at least from the date of submitting it to the Secretariat of the Chamber, and communicating it to the Ministers concerned.
No bill which has been rejected by the Chamber, may be reintroduced in the same session.
No member of the Chamber may be prosecuted because of the opinions and ideas he expresses during the term of his representation.
No Chamber member may be prosecuted or arrested, during the session, for committing a crime, unless authorized by the Chamber, except in case he is caught in the act.
If a seat becomes vacant in the Chamber, a successor must be elected within two months. The new member’s mandate does not exceed the replaced old member’s mandate term. However, if the seat becomes vacant in less than six months before the expiration of his mandate, no successor may be elected.
The general elections for the renewal of the Chamber members are conducted within the sixty days preceding the expiration of the mandate.
The Chamber establishes its own internal rules of procedure.
Every time a new Chamber is elected, it convenes under the presidency of the oldest member, while the youngest two members act as secretaries. The President and Vice-President are separately elected, for the term of the Chamber, by secret balloting and by the absolute majority of the votes cast. In a third ballot, the result is based upon the proportional majority. In case of equal votes, the oldest is considered elected.
In every election’s renewal, and at the opening of the October session every year, the Chamber elects two secretaries by secret ballot according to the majority prescribed in the first paragraph of this Article.
The Chamber, a single time, has the right, two years after electing its President and Vice-President, in its first session, to withdraw the confidence from its President or its Vice-President, by a two-thirds majority of all its members based upon a petition signed by at least ten representatives. In this case, the Chamber must hold a meeting to fill out the vacant position.
Members of the Chamber do not have the right to vote, unless they are present in the meeting. Voting by proxy is not permitted.
The Chamber alone has the right to maintain internal order through its President.
Petitions to the Chamber must be submitted in writing. They may not be presented verbally or at the bar of the Chamber.
The remuneration of the members of the Chamber shall be determined by law.
Chapter Four. The Executive Power
First. The President of the Republic
The President of the Republic is the Chief of State, and the symbol of the unity of the Homeland. He ensures the respect of the Constitution, and the maintenance of Lebanon’s independence, its unity, and its territorial integrity in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. He chairs the Higher Defence Council. He is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces which are subject to the authority of the Council of Ministers.
The President of the Republic is elected by secret ballot, by a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in the Chamber of Deputies in the first round. The President’s term in office is six years. He may only be reelected after a period of six years has lapsed since the end of his previous term. Nobody is eligible for the Presidency of the Republic if he does not meet the conditions for election to the Chamber of Deputies or is barred by them from being a candidate.
The judges and the civil servants of the first category or the equivalent category in all public administrations, public bodies and other public law corporations are not eligible to be elected during the exercise of their official functions and during the two years following their resignation and the actual termination of their functions or the date of their retirement.
When the President of the Republic assumes his office, he has to take the oath of loyalty to the Nation and the Constitution, before the Parliament, according to the following text:
“I swear by Almighty God to respect the Constitution of the Lebanese Nation and its laws, and to maintain the independence of the Lebanese Homeland, and its territorial integrity.”
The President of the Republic promulgates the laws according to the time limits specified by the Constitution, after their approval by the Chamber. He asks for their publication, without having the right to amend them or exempt anyone from being subject to their provisions.
The President of the Republic assumes the negotiations to sign international treaties and ratify them with the consent of the Head of Government. They cannot be ratified, except after the approval of the Council of Ministers. The Government brings them to the attention of the Chamber of Deputies, as soon as the interest and safety of the State permit. Treaties involving provisions related to the State finances, trade treaties, and other treaties which cannot be annulled on a yearly basis, cannot be ratified except after the approval of the Chamber of Deputies.
- The President of the Republic presides over the Council of Ministers, whenever he wishes, without participating in the vote.
- The President of the Republic appoints the Head of Government in charge of consulting with the President of the Chamber of Deputies with respect to representative mandatory consultations, the results of which are officially reported to him.
- He promulgates a decree appointing the Prime Minister separately.
- He promulgates with the consent of the Prime Minister, the decree to form the Government, and the decrees to accept the resignation of Ministers or their dismissal.
- He promulgates, independently, the decrees to accept the resignation of the Government or to consider it resigning.
- To transmit the bills, submitted to him by the Council of Ministers, to the Chamber of Deputies.
- To receive the Ambassadors, and accept their accreditation.
- He presides over official ceremonies, and grants State badges of honor by decree.
- He grants special pardon by decree, but the general pardon can only be granted by law.
- In case of necessity, he addresses messages to the Chamber of Deputies.
- He presents any of the urgent matters to the Council of Ministers, outside the agenda.
- He calls the Council of Ministers to extraordinary meetings, as he deems necessary, in agreement with the Head of Government.
Decisions of the President of the Republic must be countersigned by the Head of Government and the Minister or Ministers concerned, with the exception of the decree nominating the Head of Government and the decree accepting the resignation of the Government or considering it resigned.
As for the decree promulgating laws, it is countersigned by the Head of Government.
In the cases specified in Articles 65 and 77 of this Constitution, the President of the Republic may ask the Council of Ministers for the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies before the expiration of its mandate. Accordingly, if the Council of Ministers decides to dissolve the Chamber, the President of the Republic issues the dissolution decree. In this case, the electoral bodies convene, according to the provisions of Article 25 of the Constitution, and the new Chamber is convened within fifteen days following the proclamation of the election.
The staff of the office of the Chamber continues to manage the business until the new Chamber is elected.
In case the elections are not conducted within the time limit specified in Article 25 of the Constitution, the dissolution decree is considered null, as if non-existent, and the Chamber of Deputies continues to exercise its powers according to the Constitution.
The President of the Republic promulgates the laws, finally approved within a month after transferring them to the Government, and asks for their publication. As for the laws which the Chamber decides their urgent promulgation, he must promulgate them within five days, and asks for their publication.
He promulgates the decrees and asks for their publication. He has the right to ask the Council of Ministers to reconsider any of the decisions made by the Council within fifteen days from the date of depositing it with the President of the Republic. If the Council of Ministers insists upon the decision made, or if the time limit expired without promulgating the decree or returning it, the decision on the decree is considered in force, and must be published.
After informing the Council of Ministers, the President of the Republic has the right to request a reconsideration of the law, once during the time limit for its promulgation. His request may not be refused. When the President uses this right, [he] shall not be required to promulgate the law, until it is approved by the Chamber, after another discussion related to it, and passing it by the absolute majority of the total members constituting the Chamber legally.
In case of the expiration of the time limit without promulgating the law or returning it, it is considered in force legally, and must be published.
Every bill the Government decides to be urgent, with the approval of the Council of Ministers, and referring to that in the transmittal decree, the President of the Republic — after forty days from its submission to the Council, and after including it in a public calendar, and reading it therein, and the expiration of this period without taking any action — can promulgate a decree putting it into force, after the approval of the Council of Ministers.
The President of the Republic may adjourn the Chamber for a period not exceeding one month. He may not do that more than twice in the same session.
While performing his functions, the President of the Republic cannot be accountable except in his violation of the Constitution, or in case of high treason.
His liability for ordinary crimes is subject to public laws. He cannot be charged with these crimes, or with violating the Constitution and high treason except by the Chamber of Deputies by a decision issued by a two-thirds majority of all its members, and is tried before the Supreme Council provided for in Article 80. The public prosecution function before the Supreme Council is assumed by a judge appointed by the Supreme Court in plenary session.
Once the President of the Republic is impeached, he is suspended and the presidency stays vacant until the case is decided by the Supreme Council.
In case the presidency becomes vacant for whatever reason, the functions of the President of the Republic are delegated to the Council of Ministers.
Remunerations of the President of the Republic are determined by a law, and they cannot be increased or decreased during the term of his office.
Second. The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister is the Head of Government. He represents it, speaks in its name, and is responsible for executing the public policy made by the Council of Ministers. He assumes the following powers:
- He presides over the Council of Ministers. By law, he is Vice President of the Supreme Council of Defense.
- He conducts the representative consultations for the formation of the Government, and countersigns with the President of the Republic, the decree of its formation. The Government must present its ministerial program to the Chamber of Deputies for a vote of confidence within thirty days from the date of promulgating the decree of its formation. The Government cannot assume its functions before a vote of confidence, nor after its resignation, nor after considering it resigned, except in the narrow sense to manage the business.
- He presents the public policy of the Government to the Chamber of Deputies.
- He countersigns all decrees with the President of the Republic, except the decree nominating him Head of Government, or the decree accepting the Government’s resignation, or considering it resigned.
- He signs the decree to open an extraordinary session and the decrees promulgating the laws and the request to reconsider them.
- He convenes the Council of Ministers, and elaborates its agenda. He notifies the President of the Republic, in advance, of the topics included therein, and of the urgent topics to be discussed.
- He follows upon the achievements of the administrations and public organizations, and coordinates among Ministers, and provides guidance to ensure the good performance.
- He convenes working sessions with the concerned institutions in the State, in the presence of the Minister in charge.
Third. The Council of Ministers
The executive power is vested in the Council of Ministers, and is the power to which the Armed Forces are subjected. Of the functions it performs, are:
- Elaborating the public policy for the State in all fields, the bills and organizational decrees, and taking the decisions necessary for their implementation.
- Taking care of the enforcement of laws and orders, overseeing the functions of all the State apparatus, including administrations and civil, military, and security organizations, without exception.
- Appointing State employees, dismissing them, and accepting their resignations, according to the law.
- Dissolving the Chamber of Deputies by a request from the President of the Republic, if the Chamber abstains, for other than compelling reasons, from convening during an ordinary session, or during two extraordinary successive sessions, not less than one month each, or in case of rejecting the Budget as a whole for the purpose of paralyzing the hand of the Government to act. This right cannot be exercised another time for the same reasons which lead to the dissolution of the Chamber in the first time.
- The Council of Ministers convenes periodically in a special headquarters, and is presided over by the President of the Republic whenever he attends its sessions. The legal quorum for its convening is a two-thirds majority of its members. Its decisions are taken by consent, but if this is impossible, then by voting, and its decisions are taken by the majority of those present.
The basic issues need the consent of two-thirds of the Government members, as specified in the decree of its formation. The following are basic issues: Amending the Constitution, declaring and canceling the state of emergency, war and peace, public mobilization, international accords and treaties, state budget, overall development plans, and long term, appointing employees of the first cadre and its equivalent, reconsidering the redistricting, dissolving the Chamber of Deputies, elections law, nationality law, personal affairs laws, dismissing the Ministers.
Only Lebanese may assume the ministry, and no one may assume the ministry unless he meets the requirements which qualify him for representation.
The Ministers assume the management of the State’s interests, and they are responsible for implementing the orders and laws, each in the matters of his department and within his jurisdiction.
The Ministers are collectively liable to the Chamber of Deputies for the Government’s public policy, and individually assume the responsibility of their personal actions.
Ministers have the right to attend the Council if they so desire, and to be heard when they request to talk, and be assisted by whomever they decide from their department.
When the Council takes a vote of no confidence against any of the Ministers, according to Article 37, this Minister must resign.
- The Government is considered resigned under the following circumstances:
- If its Head resigns.
- If it loses a third of the number of its members, as prescribed in the decree of its formation.
- If its Head dies.
- When the President of the Republic takes office.
- At the beginning of the term of the Chamber of Deputies.
- When there is a vote of no confidence against it, at the initiative of the Chamber of Deputies, or at its own initiative.
- A Minister is dismissed by a decree signed by the President of the Republic and countersigned by the Head of Government, after the approval of two-thirds of the members of Government.
- When the Government resigns or is considered resigned, the Chamber of Deputies is legally in an extraordinary session, until a new Government is formed and acquires a vote of confidence.
The Chamber of Deputies may charge the Prime Minister and Ministers with high treason, or with the violation of duties assigned to them. A decision to impeach cannot be issued except by a two-thirds majority of all the members of the Chamber of Deputies. A special law determines the conditions of the legal responsibility of the Prime Minister and Ministers.
The Prime Minister and the accused Minister are tried before the Supreme Council.
Once the decision for impeachment is issued against the Prime Minister, he is suspended, and if he resigns, his resignation shall not prevent judicial proceedings from being instituted or continued against him.